Men are wild. The ones who are successful, professional, thoughtful, those are the ones to watch. Be especially careful if they are the kind who need a freshly ironed shirt to go to work each day. Those ones take you by surprise. They seem so domestic, so ordered, so wrinkle-free. You think their lives are tame because they sit in a cubicle and create spreadsheets and build empires. Then, one night you ask, innocently enough, “Tell me a story about YOU.”
Here is my husband’s story:
“When I was a kid, a dog, I think it was an Austin Healey” (Here I interject, “Did you just say Austin Healey? that’s a car…”) “NO, no I said Aussie Shepherd! Do you want to hear my story or what? (“Yes, sorry. Go ahead. A dog…”) “…a dog came to our house. It was a nice dog and really cool. Ryan (The neighbor boy) and I wanted to keep it. It was really hungry and Ryan’s parents didn’t want to have it, they said they didn’t want to spend money on feeding it.
(Here he smiles at me with in a slightly mad sort of way)
“So, we said, “No don’t worry about food. We’ll take care of that.”
“What did you do?” I asked. I thought they might have robbed a neighbor cat or something.
Another crazy smile.
He responded, “We took our BB guns and shot a bunch of sparrows. He ate them. I think he ate about eight.
(“Eight in one day?”) NO no, not in one day. Maybe a couple sparrows a day.”
After I recovered from my shock (you never know what you are going to get when you ask your husband to tell you a story) I had a lot of questions.
Me: “Did they pluck the feathers off the sparrows before feeding the dog?”
Husband: “No. He ate them with feathers.”
Me: “What happened to the dog after a feast of eight sparrows?”
Husband: “I don’t remember.”
Me: “Why didn’t you just take him to your house if Ryan’s parents didn’t want to keep him?”
Husband: “Because the dog was free! We didn’t want to put him in a cage! (note: there were no cages at his house, he was speaking metaphorically. Apparently using store bought dog food is succumbing to the man) He liked the sparrows! He liked to be free! We were boys, we were free! We could do whatever we wanted, and killing sparrows was a great idea at the time. Giving him dog food from my parents house isn’t exciting.”
Me: “It sounds like you need to go snowboarding or something.
Husband: “I know! I’ve been in a cube too much”
(Dear Mother in Law: If you are reading this, your son is sorry. So, so, sorry that he shot the sparrows against your specific orders to never kill birds. He cried for days, remorseful over the loss of life that his weapon and will had inflicted. He never told you because he was afraid that you would be so beside yourself with grief that you would have taken away his gun. Please forgive him.)